The sun seemed especially bright outside when she stepped out. Though that might have been because it was hitting the waves as it set, throwing golden light wherever it still touched. Tugging her hat where it wouldn’t glare quite as much, Evangeline pulled out her map for a quick consult. Tapping Cyllage City absently with her pointer finger, she eyed the route that she was expected to take and made a face. It was just long enough, she didn’t want to risk it. Folding the map back up, she set it into her bag and climbed up on her bag to make it back to the Pokemon Center. She’d stay here for the night and call Aunt Aya, then set out in the morning.
Nurse Joy was happy to see her again, and congratulated her on the Gym win. Flushing, Evangeline thanked her and quickly found a corner of the Center to hide in for dinner while seeing to her Pokemon. Cerise was eager to show off a new move she’d figured out, and the others were slowly starting to adapt to the new friend, to Evangeline’s sweet relief. While they played around a center rug that had a series of Pokemon-safe toys, Evangeline took off her Caster and set it on the table, rearranging it so it would be able to take a steady picture. Unlike with her calls home to her parents, she didn’t have to have a landline connection to reach Aunt Aya in Vaniville. All she needed was her sequence, which she’d gotten when they’d bought the Casters in the first place.
The screen fussed for a moment as it alerted her aunt to the incoming call, but at last, a holo-projection of her great-aunt from the shoulders up appeared in blue. “Hey there, Evangeline! I was hoping you’d call soon.”
“Hi, Aunt Aya,” she said with a shy smile. “How are things for you in Vanville?”
She waved her hand dismissively. “Same old, same old. I’m actually enjoying this little vacation, if you can believe it. It’s giving me a lot of time to consider the Academy’s curriculum and how we can make it better. I’m usually so involved with the day-to-day side of things, I don’t get to think about it.”
“Well that’s good,” Evangeline said, feeling something inside her unclench as she realized that her mother’s request wasn’t upsetting Aya’s life like she was afraid.
“Enough about my boring vacation in suburbia, how is your journey going? Where are you?” Aunt Aya asked eagerly, leaning forward. Much like the rest of her family, she hadn’t gone on a Pokemon journey or really traveled much, just settling in to family expectations. A part of Evangeline wondered if her great-aunt was trying to live vivaciously through her.
Unfortunately, Evangeline knew she was rather boring, so it wasn’t going to be that much excitement. Not to mention there was a good chunk of current events that she was desperately hoping her great-aunt wasn’t going to find out about. “Cyllage City, it’s up on the coast,” she said, then ducked her head. “I faced my second Gym today.”
“Oooh, how did it go?” Aya asked, and wouldn’t let Evangeline say just fine. She asked questions and commented until Evangeline told her the whole story, and even insisted on seeing her badge case now that there were two inside of it. She rested her chin in the balm of her hand, sighing. “Your parents are going to be so happy that this is going so well. I’m really proud of you, you know?”
Evangeline flushed in embarrassment at the praise, and a knot in her stomach rolled. She didn’t think she was worth all of this fuss. She was good, sure, she also grew up in gyms. And she’d lost Cho, and struggled with Felix for a bit there. (He was still a moody little bugger.) But she didn’t think she could tell Aunt Aya that. “I called my parents last night,” she finally settled for changing the subject slightly. “Mother is with Grandfather until you’re time to call, but Father answered.”
“Ah, how is the great feather-butt?” Aya asked with a tsk, making Evangeline giggle. That seemed to be enough for Aya, who waved her hand. “Never mind, I’ll see for myself soon enough. So Janine went to go see my big brother. She is such a daddy’s girl still.” Pausing, Aya murmured softly, “I wonder if that’s genetic?”
“I am not a daddy’s girl,” Evangeline argued, mortified.
“No, but you get along with him better than your mother,” Aya pointed out with a sad little smile. “I can’t blame you, I’ve seen how hard it is for you to fit the role she wants, remember? Actually, I think both of them have smothered you a little. It’s why I was so in favor of you going on this journey.”
“Father seemed better with it, last night,” she admitted.
That made Aya pause. “Well, good. He should be. You’re doing great, Evangeline, and you need to believe that. Part of this journey is you figuring out who you are, so you can figure out where your place is.” She leaned forward. “And that may not be in Violet or Fuschia City. Okay?”
Evangeline’s mind felt greasy even considering it. “But, but Father, and Mother…”
“Can only tolerate each other and need to figure that out already,” Aya said firmly. “When Koga retires from the Elite Four, I guarantee you he is going to want his Gym back, and where will your mother be then? And both of your parents could use some more variety to their team structures. And if they took over Violet City Gym together, maybe they’d have other children to take the pressure off of you. They are both young yet–”
“I’m not listening to this!” Evangeline squealed, covering her ears. “Aunt Aya!”
She snickered but subsided for her great-niece’s sake. “The point is, let that pressure stay back in Kanto and Johto, okay? Yes, you are still their gyms’ little princess, and you always will be, but you don’t have to be anyone’s successor unless you want to be.”
It made a lot of sense. Father had never shown any interest in anyone else, and… Well, it was hard for her to say on Mother. And hadn’t that been her complaint, wanting to do more than just the one solid type that they both wouldn’t budge from? She rubbed her forehead, feeling actually more stressed even thinking about not trying to fit into either role her parents wanted.
“But I’ve said too much.” Aya flashed her a V-for-Victory sign. “Don’t worry about us, okay? Keep up your good work! The rest will sort itself out.”
Evangeline sheepishly returned the symbol. “I’ll do my best,” she promised.
“Good. Now where is that Froakie of yours?”
Hearing himself mentioned, Kakashi had no problem leaving the play to run over to the table, craning his head around Evangeline’s shoulder. “Hi, Aunt Aya!” he greeted waving his hand as the Caster picked him up for the holo on the other side of the call.
“Oh! Well he isn’t a Froakie at all!” Aya laughed, clapping her hands in delight. “I’d let Nidoqueen say hi, but she’d probably burst into tears, and I’d never get her calmed down. Next time, okay? Or maybe you can pay a visit if you circle back around!”
“I’ll see what happens,” Evangeline promised. “Call you in a few days?”
“I’ll be waiting,” Aya said and waved good-bye before the call ended.
Shaking her head, Evangeline set the Caster back on her wrist. “Part of Lumiose was shut down when we were there, and I’m sure they have a gym. We can backtrack from there to see Aunt Aya,” she promised Kakashi quietly.
“She’d like that,” he agreed with a nod. “We can take Felix too, and some of the others to show that you know how to have diversity. That’ll help her lay hints on your parents.”
Giving her starter a glare, Evangeline lifted her bangs out of the way to give it more effect. “You are not going to help my great-aunt play matchmaker with my parents, are you?”
“If it’ll make you happy, I will. And anything that makes you less stressed is good in my book.” He stuck out his little pink tongue at her. “But unless they can understand me, I’ll have to be subtle. Sneaky. Like a–”
“Please do not say a ninja,” Evangeline groaned. “I get enough of that whenever I visit Mother.”
“…You know, I’m not even going to ask. But yes, like a ninja.” He puffed up his chest.
She laughed a little. “Even if you are the wrong type, Mother is going to love you.”
No matter how much Kakashi pleaded and demanded, Evangeline refused to explain what she meant. She instead focused on getting everyone to bed at a decent time so they could get going early in the morning. She had a lot ground to catch-up on!